Read ’em and weep:
Part 4: To be written when Echidne recovers from writing the preceding.
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Posted by Charles II on April 20, 2015
Read ’em and weep:
Part 4: To be written when Echidne recovers from writing the preceding.
Posted by Charles II on December 23, 2014
They probably didn’t do the Sony hack. Also, the hackers who brought N. Korea down were probably black hats not affiliated with the U.S. government. See my post on Daily Kos.
I know, I know. This isn’t news. Internet sites like Wired and Ars Technica have been skeptical all along. So have I, but the absence of evidence at this point is really starting to look like evidence of absence of any sense at all in the US government.
Posted by Charles II on November 24, 2014
Consider the following claims, each of which in Washington circles has attained quasi-canonical status.
* The presence of U.S. forces in the Islamic world contributes to regional stability and enhances American influence.
* The Persian Gulf constitutes a vital U.S. national security interest.
* Egypt and Saudi Arabia are valued and valuable American allies.
* The interests of the United States and Israel align.
* Terrorism poses an existential threat that the United States must defeat.
For decades now, the first four of these assertions have formed the foundation of U.S. policy in the Middle East. The events of 9/11 added the fifth, without in any way prompting a reconsideration of the first four. On each of these matters, no senior U.S. official (or anyone aspiring to a position of influence) will dare say otherwise, at least not on the record.
Yet subjected to even casual scrutiny, none of the five will stand up.
Bacevich is a national treasure. An Army colonel who lost a son, he has spoken out against our dangerous and ineffective policy with great courage.
Posted by Charles II on November 13, 2014
Crossposted from DK.
SPIEGEL: So let’s talk about a concrete example: How should the West react to the Russian annexation of Crimea? Do you fear this might mean that borders in the future are no longer incontrovertible?
Kissinger: Crimea is a symptom, not a cause. Furthermore, Crimea is a special case. Ukraine was part of Russia for a long time.
SPIEGEL: What you’re saying is that the West has at least a kind of responsibility for the escalation?
Kissinger: Yes, I am saying that. Europe and America did not understand the impact of these events, starting with the negotiations about Ukraine’s economic relations with the European Union and culminating in the demonstrations in Kiev.
Ukraine has always had a special significance for Russia. It was a mistake not to realize that.
…the West could not accept the annexation; some countermeasures were necessary. But nobody in the West has offered a concrete program to restore Crimea. Nobody is willing to fight over eastern Ukraine. That’s a fact of life.
We have to remember that Russia is an important part of the international system, and therefore useful in solving all sorts of other crises, for example in the agreement on nuclear proliferation with Iran or over Syria. This has to have preference over a tactical escalation in a specific case…. I don’t think it’s a law of nature that every state must have the right to be an ally in the frame work of NATO.
SPIEGEL: America is very polarized. The level of aggression in the political debate is extremely high. Is the superpower still even able to act at all?
Kissinger: I am worried about this domestic split. When I worked in Washington, political combat was tough. But there was much more cooperation and contact between opponents of the two big parties.
Posted by Charles II on December 6, 2012
The home of Ari Ben-Menashe, a former Israeli intelligence officer, was firebombed with an accelerant that may not be widely available. The Canadian press (from a quick reading of the Toronto Star, Montreal Gazette, and National Post) is intensely hostile to him, painting his role in various controversies as being on the dark side (like, for example, saying that he led a sting against an opponent of Robert Mugabe in 2002 without providing any context; in 2002, Mugabe was Sir Mugabe, knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 1994. The honor was revoked in 2008). So, it was of interest that Robert Parry, Consortium wrote:
In more recent years, as an international consultant often working in global hotspots, Ben-Menashe has been involved in other controversies, including a role blowing the whistle on a questionable 2010 business deal by Arthur Porter, who was then in charge of overseeing Canadian intelligence services and who ran the McGill University Health Centre.
Porter resigned both posts, and the scandal has tarnished the government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who let Porter serve in a highly sensitive position as chair of the Security Intelligence Review Committee from Sept. 3, 2008, until his resignation on Nov. 10, 2011. That position gave Porter access to not only sensitive secrets of Canadian intelligence but of American intelligence as well.
Ben-Menashe’s knowledge of the Porter’s ethically questionable conduct began in June 2010 when Porter paid Ben-Menashe’s consulting firm $200,000 to help broker a $120 million development grant for Porter’s homeland of Sierra Leone. However, Ben-Menashe learned that the grant was to be funneled through an outfit known as the Africa Infrastructure Group, which Porter owned, and the deal was using a questionable Swiss bank.
After discovering these irregularities, Ben-Menashe said he returned the $200,000 fee and terminated the grant proposal. According to Ben-Menashe, Porter blamed him for sinking the scheme, which was later exposed by Canada’s National Post precipitating Porter’s fall from grace. Last month, McGill University also sued Porter for $317,154.
So, the nasty dispute with Porter is one of the avenues of inquiry being followed by Montreal police. But Ben-Menashe also has been the target of the Israeli government for divulging state secrets in the early 1990s and he remains a bête noire in some Israeli circles to this day.
The man has a lot of enemies. But not all of them have access to military-grade accelerants.
Posted by Charles II on November 25, 2012
John Lichfield, The Independent:
Seldom in any democratic country can such fraternal hatred, such bloody-minded determination to eviscerate nominal colleagues, have been exposed within one political party.
Forget John Major’s war with the Tory Eurosceptic “bastards” in the 1990s. Forget Republican primary attack ‘ads’ in the United States. For eight days, leading members of the French centre-right have been ripping one another apart live on radio and TV or exchanging insults and accusations by Twitter.
François Fillon, the gently-spoken man who was prime minister until six months ago, has accused his leadership rival Jean-Francois Copé of turning France’s largest political party into a “mafia”. Mr Copé has accused Mr Fillon and his supporters of “ massive, pre-meditated fraud” in an internal election for party president which ended in a near dead-heat last weekend.
Posted by Charles II on September 27, 2012
For some time, I have been concerned about the strengthening of the Chinese navy. In 2009, there was a clash between the USS Impeccable and Chinese vessels. In 2010, there was an incident between the Chinese and Japan.
Now there is rising tension over the Senkaku (Chinese: Diaoyutai) Islands. Probably because of domestic factors, Japan has chosen to emphasize its claims to ownership of the islands and China, for its own domestic reasons, has chosen to respond with rhetoric so intense that some Japanese manufacturers in China have been forced to shut down. The islands are not inhabited, and are roughly 150 miles off of Taiwan and 230 miles off of China. However, thanks to the 200 mile exclusion zone granted by international law to territorial waters, whoever controls the islands, controls something like 25,000 square miles of seabed which might constitute a new Saudi Arabia. If there is a conflict, the US is bound by treaty to support Japan.
None of this would be an issue if China had not developed a blue water navy. But it has, and the purpose of that navy is probably, according to the Congressional Research Service, to fend off any attempt to rescue Taiwan from a Chinese invasion. Today, on CCTV, their first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, was pointedly on display.
China has had a series of clashes with its neighbors, including Vietnam, the Philippines, and Japan. India regards it as its primary rival. China, of course, seized a US aircraft during the Dubya Administration.
This is a dangerous situation and, I fear, part of a China that has gone from confident to arrogant, and prone to misjudgment. Whether the present kerfuffle over the Senkaku Islands will end in bloodshed is unknowable. My guess is, probably not. But as American power comes under increasing strain (thanks to our criminally incompetent military leadership), the emergence of an aggressive China is likely. Economically, the effect of open conflict could be as serious as war against Iran. Perhaps worse.
And the American media continue pouring out infotainment, and the American public remains oblivious.
Added: This column by Han Yi-Shaw presenting the Chinese point of view is useful, as are many of the comments. Personally, I think that the resources below the Economic Zone should be donated to the Palestinians and other people living under stateless conditions. Then the Chinese and Japanese can probably find an amicable resolution as to who owns the islands.
Posted by Charles II on January 22, 2012
Bryan Bender, Boston Globe:
When Charles G. Taylor tied bed sheets together to escape from a second-floor window at the Plymouth House of Correction on Sept. 15, 1985, he was more than a fugitive trying to avoid extradition. He was a sought-after source for American intelligence.
After a quarter-century of silence, the US government has confirmed what has long been rumored: Taylor, who would become president of Liberia and the first African leader tried for war crimes, worked with US spy agencies during his rise as one of the world’s most notorious dictators.
Former intelligence officials, who agreed to discuss the covert ties only on the condition of anonymity, and specialists including Farah believe Taylor probably was considered useful for gathering intelligence about the activities of Moammar Khadafy.
Bryan Bender, Boston Globe:
Breaking two and a half decades of silence, former Liberian president and accused war criminal Charles G. Taylor said today that his infamous prison break from the Plymouth County Correctional Facility in 1985 was aided by the US government…
In the second day of his testimony in his war crimes trial that could settle the long-standing mystery, Taylor said that on the night of Sept. 15, 1985, his maximum-security prison cell was unlocked by a guard and he was escorted to the minimum-security part of the facility.
According to news reports from The Hague, he said he then escaped by tying sheets together and climbing out a window and over a prison fence where he said a car with two men he assumed were agents of the US government drove him to New York, where his wife was waiting with money to get him out of the country.
Robtel Neajai Pailey, AllAfrica:
The bombshell news that he was indeed a CIA informant in the early years of his rise to notoriety calls into question America’s complicity in Taylor’s destruction of Liberia.
America’s facilitation of Taylor’s escape from a maximum security prison in Boston in 1985 – while he was facing extradition to Liberia for allegedly stealing US$1 million from the General Services Agency, which he headed during President Samuel Kanyon Doe’s regime – was always rumored but never corroborated. …
The Taylor-CIA connection has re-inscribed for Liberians an age-old dilemma, what to do with our so-called historical relationship with the United States, which has been fraught with betrayal after betrayal. Liberians who have been commenting on various notice boards are justifiably angry, upset and disappointed, but not surprised.
It’s no wonder that the U.S. didn’t intervene in the Liberian civil war, though Liberians begged and pleaded for its “father/mother” to stop us from killing each other. One U.S. diplomat at the time even said that “Liberia is of no strategic interest to the United States.” …
This should send a strong signal to Liberians and Liberia once and for all that America cannot be trusted. From Noriega, to Osama, to Saddam, to Samuel Doe, authoritarian leaders who end up in the U.S.’s good graces are never there for long.
Taylor presided over genocide and looting that garnered him hundreds of millions or billions of dollars while costing the lives of 250,000 human beings, including many child soldiers.
1985 would be Reagan. But the “intelligence community” that facilitated Taylor’s release is eternal and non-partisan. The same unelected government which released a man who had robbed the American people of a million dollars so that he could prey on descendants of Americans who chose to return to the country of their ethnic origin very likely participated in the kidnapping of the lawfully elected president of Honduras–indeed, probably presided over a host of criminal actions performed in the name of national security, but ending in innocent blood, public dishonor and the world’s distrust of us.
Apparently it’s just the way we do business.
Posted by Charles II on December 8, 2011
Ouch. That’s got to leave a mark. Democracy Now:
Democracy Now! caught up to Marc Morano, publisher of the Climate Depot, at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa. “They [the Obama administration] have kept the exact same principles and negotiating stance as President George Bush did for eight years,” Morano says. “Obama has carried on Bush’s legacy. So as skeptics, we tip our hat to President Obama in helping to crush and continuing to defeat the United Nations process. Obama has been a great friend of global warming skeptics at these conferences.”
Add to that the fact that Abigail Borah, who disrupted the plenary speech of US delegate Todd Stern by telling him that the US is the principal obstacle to effective negotiations got copious applause from the delegates, probably more than Stern got for his talk, plus the fact that the 12 big US environmental groups have said the same thing, and one can see that Obama is in serious trouble with his base.
Posted by Charles II on July 11, 2011
Image from Huffpo
John Hooper, The Guardian:
Silvio Berlusconi learned on Saturday that judges in Milan had ordered his company Fininvest to hand over more than half a billion euros to his deadliest rival.
The money is compensation for bribery of a judge to rule in Berlusconi’s favour in his struggle with the industrialist Carlo De Benedetti for control of Mondadori, Italy’s biggest publishing house.
Berlusconi himself was put on trial for bribery in connection with the Mondadori judgment, but the charges against him were dropped in 2001 after being timed out by a statute of limitations. In their written ruling, however, the Milan appeals court judges said he was “jointly responsible” for the corruption.
They said it was “beyond any plausible reasoning” that Fininvest’s lawyers would have been given the money to bribe the judge while “the owner of the company that paid and benefited was kept in the dark”.
European Council President Herman Van Rompuy has called an emergency meeting of top officials dealing with the euro zone debt crisis for Monday morning, reflecting concern that the crisis could spread to Italy, the region’s third largest economy.
The market pressure is due partly to Italy’s high sovereign debt and sluggish economy, but also to concern that Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi may be trying to undermine and even push out Finance Minister Giulio Tremonti, who has promoted deep spending cuts to control the budget deficit.
Basically, the money boys have Italy in their sights and think they can roll Berlusconi, who actually sounds as if he’s trying to protect the Italian economy from the Austerians.